American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 51
    Whole #666
    December 18, 2013
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault


    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials to document and make accessible the histories of families in America.

    * NEHGS Holiday Closing
    * NEHGS Gift Memberships
    * NEHGS Database News
    * New at the Online Learning Center
    * A Note from the Editor: Holiday Newsletters Revisited
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: More Washington State Resources
    * Stories of Interest
    * Last Chance for Holiday Shopping Bundles
    * Upcoming Education Program at NEHGS in Boston


    NEHGS Holiday Closing

    In observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, NEHGS will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24; all day on Wednesday, December 25; at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31; and all day on Wednesday, January 1.

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Gift Memberships

    There’s still time to give the gift of family history! NEHGS gift memberships are the perfect present for your genealogist friend or family member…or even for yourself. Click here to purchase your gift membership and ensure delivery by December 24.

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Christopher Carter, Digital Collections Coordinator

    Vermont Vital Records: Deaths, 1871–1908

    This database contains records of deaths filed with the state of Vermont between 1871 and 1908. These records are currently held by the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. Names of parents and spouses have been indexed, when available.

    The records held in this collection refer to the statewide index of vital records maintained by the Vermont State Archives. Town clerks were required to send copies of vital records to the state beginning in 1857. The state government began creating a statewide index to these records in 1919. The original vital records are still held at the town level. It may be possible to obtain a copy of the original record by contacting the corresponding town clerk’s office.

    Earlier Vermont vital records, ranging from the year 1720 to 1870, are not available online at this time. They will be added to our digital collections in the future.

    Databases in Progress
    Records of Vermont births and marriages, 1871 to 1908, will be released within the next month. The birth records will be released at the end of December; the marriage records will be added to the database in mid-January.

    Return to Table of Contents


    New at the Online Learning Center

    Sign up for the FREE Webinar!
    Ten Steps for Writing & Publishing Your Family History
    Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 3-4 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST; 1 p.m. MST; 12 p.m. PST)

    Presented by: Penny Stratton, NEHGS Publishing Director
    Level: All levels
    Intended Audience: Anyone interested in writing or publishing their research

    Whether you are just starting your research or wrapping up years of genealogical investigation, you’re probably wondering how to best share your findings with family, the greater genealogical community, and generations to come. Consider writing a book! NEHGS Publishing Director Penny Stratton will explain the ten basic steps of writing and publishing your family history. Our webinars fill quickly—sign up today!

    Subject Guide
    Learn more about how to write and publish your family history with our new subject guide, Writing & Publishing Your Family History. Find helpful resources, how-to tips, and informative videos. Make your goal of writing up your research a reality.

    In-Person Course
    And if you’re interested in a more in-depth, in-person seminar on how to write, format, and publish your work, consider attending our May 2014 Writing and Publishing Seminar at NEHGS in Boston.

    Our growing Online Learning Center contains subject guides on a variety of genealogical topics, how-to videos, webinars, online courses, and more. Stay tuned for more resources in the coming weeks and months! If you have questions or feedback, please contact Online Education Coordinator Ginevra Morse at

    Return to Table of Contents


    A Note from the Editor: Holiday Newsletters Revisited
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    The following essay has been revised since it was originally published in The Weekly Genealogist on December 21, 2011.

    Although the holiday newsletters sent out to family and friends this time of year are frequently mocked, I’ve always enjoyed reading them. Now I also write one, and over time I’ve come to appreciate their more lasting value for family historians.

    I never considered writing a holiday newsletter before I had kids. In my pre-parenthood days I had more time to write individual notes and I also had less information to share. My twin son and daughter were born in January of 2004, and, by the time December rolled around, I had lots of news to impart and very little time. So I wrote my first holiday newsletter and sent it out with a family photograph. I can’t say how well my letter was received but I was glad I’d documented at least a few facts from that blurry first year.

    After five years, I realized that I had never given any thought to keeping copies of my letters or holiday photographs. (And, yes, I’ve worked at the New England Historic Genealogical Society since 1995 and have been doing family history since I was about fourteen.) So I began the painful process of trying to reassemble what I’d sent out. The computer I composed the first letters on had died, and I had to ask various relatives if they had kept my letters. Fortunately, some had, and were willing to return them. Two of my early holiday photos still were “saved projects” in the Kodak Gallery and Shutterfly websites. I was pleased about this—except that I had to order ten copies of each photo so I could get the one copy of each I actually wanted. My final missing piece, the 2004 family photo, was found when I went to Minnesota and my mother let me look through my grandmother’s papers. My grandmother, who died in 2007, had indeed saved that holiday photo.

    The effort I put in was worth it. I purchased a nice album and inserted all the photos and letters, and for the last few years I’ve simply added a new photo and letter. After inserting this year’s additions, I flipped through my ten years of documentation with some satisfaction. I am sorry to say that I didn’t journal about my kids’ early lives or fill baby books with great detail, as my mother did for me. But I am glad to have this record, which offers a yearly snapshot of our lives.

    A couple of years ago, I asked my kids if they wanted me to read them the first letter, written when they were eleven months old, and they said yes. I thought they might be interested but I did not expect them to be as enthralled as they were. While I read, they laughed and blushed and asked lots of questions—and the questions continued long afterwards. Last year, my daughter prompted me to bring down the album and while I made Vermont cheddar soup, she grated cheese and read every one of the letters out loud to me. This year, she had more input into what was written—and she used a red pen to mark up my first draft so her changes could be incorporated. I expect the holiday letter will become more collaborative every year.

    Historians often express concern that there will be fewer written sources to preserve from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries than in previous eras. It seems to me that the preservation of holiday newsletters, a unique source that originated and flourished during this time period, would make future genealogists very happy. I rather like the idea of a descendant getting to know me through my holiday newsletters.

    Return to Table of Contents


    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked if you have Maine ancestors. 3,979 people answered the survey. The results are:

    • 49%, Yes
    • 41%, No
    • 10%, I’m not sure

    This week’s survey asks about holiday newsletters. Take the survey now!

    Return to Table of Contents


    Spotlight: More Washington State Resources
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Lower Columbia Genealogical Society, Washington

    Cowlitz County is located in southwestern Washington. Its county seat is Kelso. The Lower Columbia Genealogical Society has digitized a number of Cowlitz County resources from volumes in the Longview Public Library. Click the Cowlitz County Resources link in the contents list on the left side of the homepage to access the resources.

    Cemetery Indexes
    The online cemetery indexes are taken from two books published by the Lower Columbia Genealogical Society: Cowlitz County, Washington, Cemetery Records Thru 1983, Volume 1 and Cowlitz County, Washington, Cemetery Records 1983-1989, Volume 2. The data fields are the deceased’s full name and page number.

    Census Transcriptions
    The census records for 1871, 1883, 1885, and 1887 are drawn from Cowlitz County, Washington Territory Auditor’s Census, published by the Lower Columbia Genealogical Society. The databases include surname indexes, transcriptions of the records, and lists of abbreviations used in the census for all years. The data fields include page number, last name, first name, age, sex, race, occupation, marital status, and birthplace. There are also two databases related to the 1910 federal census for Cowlitz County: a surname index and a compiled transcription organized by precinct/town.

    Marriage Records Abstracts and Index
    Researchers will find two sets of Cowlitz County marriage records databases. One set comprises abstracts of records from 1854 through 1900. The records are alphabetized by groom’s surname with a companion index to the bride’s names. The second set covers 1900 through 1925, with databases sorted by bride’s surname and groom’s surname.

    Additional resources include a naturalizations index covering 1859 through 1920, two Probate Court records indexes, and a wills index.

    Longview Public Library Obituary Index

    The Longview Public Library has made an obituary index available on its website. The database covers 1871 through 2013. The alphabetical index can be browsed by last name or by year. Newspaper title abbreviations are provided on the obituary webpage.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Stories of Interest

    A Million First Steps
    Last Thursday, the British Library announced that it released on Flickr Commons more than a million images from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century books for anyone “to use, remix and repurpose.”

    Government of Canada Acquires Historically Significant Documents About the 1758 Siege of Louisbourg
    Library and Archives Canada has acquired a two-part 180-page manuscript diary written by an unknown French infantry officer from the “Régiment de Cambis” who witnessed the events of the siege of Louisbourg in Cape Breton.

    Prison Memoir of a Black Man in the 1850s
    A 304-page manuscript memoir that Yale University authenticated and acquired for its Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is believed to be “the first recovered memoir written in prison by an African American.” Titled “The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison,” the work describes the experiences of the author, Austin Reed, from the 1830s to the 1850s in a prison in upstate New York.

    Chasing 5th-Century Clues From A Woman’s Tombstone
    Professor Steven Fine and a few students at Yeshiva University in Upper Manhattan are in the midst of “a detective story, but not the ripped-from-the-headlines kind. The woman died more than 1,600 years ago, in what is now Jordan.”

    Return to Table of Contents


    Last Chance for Holiday Shopping Bundles

    Have you been looking for your great-great-grandmother? We may have found her—in the Bookstore at NEHGS!

    The Bookstore at NEHGS has brought back the ever-popular Holiday Gift Sets! We have “bundled” together some of our most popular titles and slashed the prices up to 30% to help make your gift buying easy and affordable. Books, charts, gift certificates, stocking stuffers—even gift memberships are available. Everything you need for the genealogist in your life—even if it is you!

    Start shopping today! And who knows—maybe this year you’ll find that relative you’ve been searching for!

    Special pricing available through December 31, 2013, while supplies last. Cannot be combined with any other discounts, including the NEHGS member discount. Prices do not include shipping.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Upcoming Education Program at NEHGS in Boston

    Can’t Make It to Hartford? Power Researching Connectciut Genealogy Online
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, Mass.
    Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 6–7 p.m.

    Join us at NEHGS for a lecture by genealogist Barbara J. Mathews on Connecticut genealogy resources that are accessible from home. Whether you are preparing for the NEHGS Research Tour in April 2014 or making the most of online resources to further your research, this lecture will be valuable as you navigate Connecticut resources.

    This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Please email or call 617-226-1226 to reserve a space. Space is limited.

    Registration info

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Contact Information

    We encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. Subscribe or view back issues of The Weekly Genealogist.

    Visit the Society on Facebook.

    The Weekly Genealogist, like all of our programs, is made possible through the generous contributions of our members. Visit us online for information about giving to NEHGS.

    For more information on the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit our website.

    Become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.


    Copyright 2013, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Return to Table of Contents

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society